Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I

Flying from Philadelphia to Farmington requires a trip on the Grasshopper Express-- my fond name for the small planes that hop over the mountains to Denver, where passengers catch the "real" planes.

It was already dark when we departed Denver International Airport from Gate W72 (or some other such out-of-the-way point), and I was reveling in the discovery I would have both seats to myself on the GE. I settled in with my journal, which had not seen much of me during the conference in Philly. I leaned against the window, watching the nothingness going by and jotting random ideas down. This went on for awhile before I became conscious of a noise that had been going on for quite some time. It was the sound of paper rustling, but in a very rhythmic pattern. Then it would stop. Then start again. Once I became conscious of it, it began to irritate. It was like having a case of the hiccups-- relentless onslaught followed by a period of silence and the hope that it it's past, only to have that hope dashed by another jolt of hiccup.

I finally looked around to see where the noise was coming from and saw behind me a woman sitting in the last corner of the plane, nothing behind her but the tiny closet optimistically labeled "Restroom" (a pregnant woman went into that space during the flight, and her husband had to get her out. He found it a difficult task, mostly because he couldn't stop laughing). The woman had one of the tiny white bags left in the pocket of the seatbacks with the safety card no one bothers to pull out anymore, and the flight magazine with odd yet strangely necessary products like electric toiletbowl brushes and telescoping eyeglass cases in five fresh colors. The woman was using the bag to breathe into. She was in full hyperventilation mode, and I was doubtful the bag was providing her with any real support.

I turned back to the window and thought, (very smugly, I might add) poor woman. There's really no reason to be so stressed. We're perfectly safe...This grasshopper has made the jump countless times before...Those pilots are experienced...And the flight attendant, well, she's quite calm... She would know if anything was amiss...Besides, why worry about dying? If it happens, there won't be much any of us can do about it...There might be a moment when we look up and think, wow-- that's a big mountain, but it will be too quick to realize...Well, look at that wing-- why is it shaking like that? What is that...I only see it when the strobe light comes on...Wait...Oh, it's rain...No... No, it's sleet...Is it snowing? Can the pilots see? Ok!... Stop that... Really, nothing to get upset about...

Too late. I dug the little white bag out of my seatback pocket, just in case.

Monday, November 16, 2009

For Sale by Owner

Last month in the midst of baldness and other such madness, I put my house on the market. I have it in my head that selling it and moving closer to work will miraculously make life better than ever before. I don't know about that, but now there's a "For Sale" sign planted in the front yard and a virtual tour of my cluttered kitchen online.

The thing about selling a house is, you never know when someone will come to see it. The real estate office is suppose to call me and set an appointment when an agent wants to show the house, but messages are useless when the phone isn't working-- such as now. So picture it-- I have settled in for the evening, wearing my running shorts and tee-shirt under my huge, old, burgundy robe. I am going through my typical evening, which consists of Bejewelled Twist punctuated with Facebook and updating my Plurk. Jet the Mighty Dog suddenly breaks out in a frenzy of barking at the same time someone knocks on the front door. It's an agent, with a young couple in tow.

"They didn't call you?" she asks me as I scramble across the living room. I assure her it's fine, that Savannah and I can go for a soda. We quickly throw on some presentable clothes (i.e., I decide against wearing the robe outside) and shoes, grab the keys, and out the door, repeating over and over, "Take your time, no hurry-- no hurry!"

Then, once in the driveway, I realize the young couple have blocked the car in. We can't leave. I don't want to go back in and ask them to move their car; seems like bad juju to be too demanding of the people who might bring about the miracle in my life. Savannah and I make a quick decision to walk down to the local sandwich shop, two blocks away. It is dark, cold, and I forgot a hat. I've been told that one loses a lot of body heat from the head. I am here to say that is not an urban myth. Worse than this, Savannah has no jacket.

We rush to the sandwich shop, where a former (bless him) student gives me two double-chocolate cookies on the house. We sit for awhile, talking about nothing and entering numbers into Savannah's new cell phone. Finally, after a half hour, we head back. It is even colder than before. Get to our street. Look down the road. The cars are still parked in front of our house, and Jet the Mighty Dog is still in a frenzy. I mean, I know I said to take their time, but come on-- it's not that big of a house! And it is very, very, cold.

Savannah and I argue about whether or not to show up on one of our neighbor's doorsteps and beg for refuge while the young couple and the agent peruse my house (Did I pick up all the socks? All the... unmentionables?), finally heading to her friend Kateland's house a couple of blocks away in the opposite direction from the sandwich shop. The temperature is dropping, my ears have lost all feeling, and Savannah can no longer move her arms although she insists she's "fine." Of course, she wants to live in Iceland, so what's a balmy 32 degrees to her?

And, of course, Kateland isn't home. So, we take another lap around the block, Savannah in a short dress, short sleeves, and thin leggings and me with my frozen ears and hands clutching my double-chocolate cookies. This time, as we come around, I am happy to see everyone has left.

This house has never felt so warm.

Despite the absurdity of Savannah and I walking around the neighborhood in the cold with nothing but two double-chocolate cookies, this experience was still better than the last showing. That one took place about two weeks ago. I distinctly remember it because for that visit there was a broken-down water heater sitting in the front yard. I had awoken to a flooded laundry room the day before and had spent both girls' inheritance replacing it (but what a selling point-- that new tank is absolutely gorgeous). The old one had not been hauled off, so of course someone wants to see the house. I can only imagine their reaction as they pulled up-- the yard is covered with fall leaves that haven't been raked and bagged, there's a crazy dog throwing himself against the fence, and there's a water heater in the front yard. The only thing that could complete the picture is the dueling banjos from Deliverance playing in the background.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Translation: Flugufrelsarinn*

"The Fly's Savior"

Hullabaloo, I rushed down to the lake
A savior
I made a ship and said a short prayer
Because I was scared
The sun shown and the lake flowed
Sunflowers, sunflowers the flies die

But today I'm supposed to save as many flies as possible
In each hand I carry a string- determined
I throw them into the abyss and try
To haul the flies in before
The smolts reach them where they fight
The stream and water

And so the day passes on
Going on board, I had begun fighting
The Stream
Which had already killed so many

I can't breathe and I'm getting heavier with every wave
I need a miracle
Because I'm drowning sins
I try to get onboard

I pull ashore and save myself onto
onto the beach
I lay on a hot rock and let myself dry again
I throw myself into the abyss and try
To draw in the flies before
The smolts reach them where they fight
The stream and water

Gustur, completely soaked
Frakkur feels how the boat is out of the strongest current
And the land slowly approaches

He is both
Sea and on land saving
The flies that die here
Though especially himself
Eternal war and peace nowhere
But someone has to sacrifice himself
The days are long

What do you think of these Sigur Ros lyrics? Translated from the Icelandic, of course...

*Well, according to the translator page thingy. :D

Monday, November 2, 2009

Big Musical Debate

Which do you (Mom, the loyal reader) prefer:

The Phantom of the Opera or
Cats or
Chicago or

Urinetown may seem unrelated. In a category of exciting and beautiful music with complex plots and realities, Urinetown is odd, but it's nice to have a little random choice.

Anyways, there are some qualms to be expressed about The Phantom of the Opera. Namely, when Gerard Butler sings this to you, why the %&$# would you go with that pansy Raoul? What's your problem, Christine?

Who does that?

Besides everyone at Disney Channel, because that's not the point. I mean in the real world: who picks Mr. Pouty Lip over Gerard Butler?

The Eee Post

(because I really don't know what else to call this)

Since I decided to become an activist about a year ago, I've encountered numerous odd, uh, individuals (to use a polite word and establish a polite post) who are bound and determined to impede human rights at all costs, something which, frankly, confuses me. For example, I'm not really sure what standing in the way of immigrants' rights gets you. And I've heard my fair share of racism and classism against immigrants to come to the conclusion that certain people are motivated by ignorance alone. Usually, when characterizing one's enemies, one tends to make them motivated by evil or greed or an unhealthy need for control because it is just easier to feel righteous that way. I've found that in many cases it is not correct to assume that people are motivated by hatred (because they aren't always trolls) and more by ignorance. You truly have to be lacking in basic knowledge of a subject to believe that Mexicans come to the country to spread drugs, as though that is their life: bringing about the downfall of another country using illegal substances and not getting anything in return. And I use Mexicans specifically because, apparently, only immigrants coming in from "those" countries are trafficking drugs: no one complains about French immigrants or British immigrants.

I consider myself a liberal, though not Superliberal like Kailee. But I try to respect anyone's politics so much as they're not (a). ignorant or (b). bigoted. Usually, if one achieves decent erudition on a subject, then he or she is able to avoid bigotry. Generally, I support things that are pretty bipartisan: conservatives and liberals alike, for example, support peace in Darfur. That's a human thing, and I'm aware that liberal (or conservative) by American standards is actually rather moderate since there's no extreme this or that in this country that ever gains too much power, so calling myself a liberal is complicated at best.

I have been, in this past year, slapped with the dreaded "fauxgressive" label because I happen to be pro-life. Though I would like to point out that abortion is not my White Whale (Darfur is; it's just much harder to find information on Darfur so it's harder to find something to vocalize) and, while I have written about it (or, rather, am writing about it currently), I've never written an agenda story, or, a piece with activism in mind. I've written an essay about it that was intended to stand up for fetal rights and it features in a story that I'm writing now, albeit the story isn't about abortion or trying to make a statement about it. However, I think that my mother has taken this to mean that I'm obsessed with the topic. I care about it, but Darfur is still my Topic. With a capital "t." Like that.

Anyways, I've in my time heard some odd excuses for opposing human rights and would like my mom (the reader of this blog) to comment on whether or not she's had the same difficulties as I've had when explaining that polar bears don't drown because they're playing Dead but because of global warming:

  • "Global warming? You seriously believe in global warming? Don't buy into that garbage. There's no such thing as carbon emissions. Global warming is natural and will settle itself come winter. Global warming is, after all, caused by the sun."
  • "You're just anti-choice because you hate Holland."
  • "Obama's gonna take my guns!"
  • "I don't think that the government ought to get involved with things like healthcare or public stuff. Who knows if an illegal immigrant is going to use my tax dollars to get care or drive around on the road that I paid for."
  • "I'll believe in global warming when the Earth's climate starts changing."
  • "No, gays do not want rights because they want to avoid being beaten to death by people. They just want to fornicate. It has nothing do with protection."

I'm actually also sort of confused by global warming since that has nothing do with politics or human rights and if it makes you feel more inclined to acceptance, you could probably get rich off of eco-technology or t-shirts. They're all the rage.


May I please reiterate that it doesn't matter whether or not you're a conservative or a liberal. My best friend (Bug) is a conservative and she certainly doesn't oppose human rights- just the opposite: she's one of the kindest people I've ever met and is very well-informed of her choices and knows exactly where she stands and why; so this is not about politics. It's just about my experiences as a fledgling activist awash in a sea of stupidity.